Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, who once held the same post at Tulane, talks about Missy Franklin, the Green Wave’s new stadium and serving as tour guide in New Orleans:
Cal has dominant women’s teams in so many sports — softball, crew, volleyball, swimming. Why has it taken this long to reach the same level in basketball?
I can only speak to my history there. And that is, it’s clearly important to me that we have a highly successful women’s basketball program. It’s arguably the premier program in women’s college sports, and it certainly is in our conference. We’ve invested in excellence in the program, and it’s paying off.
You’ve got Olympic gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin coming to Cal this fall. She’s pretty tall. Think she could help the basketball team?
Missy does her stuff in the water. We’ve got a number of Olympic athletes on our campus. It’s part of what’s fun about being part of such a diverse athletic department and this university. You’re walking around with people who have already achieved greatness or are going to.
If Baylor and Duke had gotten here, you would have reunited with your old Tulane colleagues Ian McCaw (the Baylor athletic director) and Kevin White (the Duke AD). Have you rubbed it into them a little bit that you’re here and they’re not?
You don’t do that. If you have any sense, you don’t do that in this world. There but for the grace of God go any one of us. As friends, I would have loved for them to have achieved this. They both have before, but I’m just thrilled that my team brought me home.
Stanford’s not here, either. Are you happy about that?
No. For our conference, when we’re not playing out of conference, we’re cheering for each other. Cal and Stanford is a phenomenal rivalry. Bernard Muir, who is their athletic director, was a colleague at Notre Dame. The only thing better would have been for Stanford to have been here with us.
Have you checked out the construction of the new football stadium at Tulane yet?
Not yet, but I plan to. I think it’s fantastic, though. It’s one of the things that’s certainly needed. The Superdome is a phenomenal facility, but it’s not on campus. To have a more intimate atmosphere on your own campus is a tremendous advantage.
Speaking of football, you hired Sonny Dykes from Louisiana Tech to be your new football coach. How’s that working out?
It’s fantastic. He’s a great fit for us as a person and the staff he’s hired. The style of football he’s brought to us I know is going to be really attractive not only to recruits but to our fans and community.
What’s been your best advice as a tour guide in New Orleans this weekend?
Take it all in. It’s hard because the schedule’s packed. But this group embraces all of that, and they’re going to be able to embrace it all.